Government is fully committed to supporting future development for the Chagossian community and improving their overall well-being, emphasised the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, at the wreath laying ceremony held on 03 November 2018 at Quay C in Port Louis to commemorate the deportation of Chagossians.
The Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence, Minister for Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Chairman and Leader of the Chagos Refugees Group, Mr Olivier Bancoult, as well as several other ministers and eminent personalities were present at the event, organised by the Ministry of Defence and Rodrigues, the Chagossian Welfare Fund in collaboration with the Mauritius Ports Authority.
Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that the Chagos issue is one among the main priorities of the Government who remains sensitive to the plight of Chagossians. National unity, he highlighted, will pave the way for the development of a stronger nation which will in turn contribute to the fight for a social cause against the injustice made to Mauritians, especially those of Chagossian origins.
He underscored that the forceful expulsion of Chagossians from their homeland has perpetrated a historic injustice that must be remedied. He emphasised that the denial of the right of Chagossians to resettle in the Chagos Archipelago is a manifest breach of international law and a violation of their basic rights.
Prime Minister Jugnauth recalled that the United Nations General Assembly had sought for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, to which some 94 countries reacted favourably. He pointed out that the oral statements and presentations of Chagossians at the ICJ during the public proceedings in September 2018 have shed light on various aspects which have initiated further reflection as well as thoughtful discussions.
On this score, the Prime Minister expressed the gratitude of the Government and the people of Mauritius towards the African Union Member States, for their support in the struggle to complete the decolonisation process and uphold the legitimate rights of the Chagossian community.
The Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence, Minister for Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, on his part, expressed great hope on the Chagos issue for fruitful outcomes in favour of Mauritius, particularly of Chagossians. He underlined that the public hearings of the ICJ mark a milestone moment in the long-lasting struggle of Chagossians against the disrespect of their rights to resettling on their native place.
Mauritius, he said, has benefited from international cooperation of several countries such as India, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, Thailand and Marshall Islands amongst others in the support of the respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Mauritius.
The Minister Mentor commended the efforts and patience of the Chagossian community in their struggle to return to their homeland and reaffirmed Government's determination to relentlessly pursue its initiatives in conformity with international law to effectively exercise sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.
For his part, Mr Olivier Bancoult, underpinned that the Chagos Monument at Quay C is symbolical of all the misery, hardship and suffering that the community underwent during their deportation from their native place to Mauritius, especially when they were deprived of their legitimate rights on the land of Chagos.
Moreover, he paid tribute to the Chagossians who lost their lives during the deportation and who were either buried in estranged lands or thrown in the oceans, adding that it is very difficult to drive away the emotional trauma witnessed by the victims of this disgraceful exile. He also appealed to local and international organisations to demonstrate a sense of solidarity and unity in their actions geared towards the betterment of the Chagossian community.